Governor Declares Civil Emergency
Below is a press release issued by the Office of the Governor for the State of Maine, Paul LePage.
With the federal shutdown now into its second week, Governor Paul R. LePage today issued a proclamation declaring a civil emergency so his administration can minimize the financial impact to the State of Maine and its federally funded employees. Maine law enables the Governor to declare a civil emergency.
“The failure of leadership in Washington, D.C. has resulted in a federal shutdown, preventing the flow of federal money to Maine,” said Governor LePage. “Unfortunately, this means that a large number of our federally funded state employees may have to be laid off. The State of Maine simply cannot fill the financial gap created by the prolonged loss of federal dollars. It would be unlawful for the State to ask our federally funded employees to continue to work without having the authority to pay them.”
More than 2,700 state employees are paid, either partially or entirely, by federal funding. Governor LePage sent a letter to all state employees, explaining why the civil emergency is necessary. The federal shutdown not only affects federally funded state employees, it also impacts many federally funded programs and services that Mainers rely upon.
Services and/or programs have already been adversely impacted at several state agencies, including the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor.
“Some politicians tell us not to worry about it, that the check is in the mail,” said Governor LePage. “But they cannot tell us when or if any federal money will be available. In the meantime, we cannot use Maine taxpayers’ money to pay for positions or programs that are supposed to be federally funded. We did not create this mess in Washington, D.C., but our administration is working tirelessly to assist our employees and to allow the continuation of important programs and services to the citizens of Maine.”
The proclamation language is as follows:
WHEREAS, the Civil Emergency Preparedness Act (“CEPA”), 37-B MRSA §§701-850 confers emergency powers upon the Governor in civil emergencies;
WHEREAS, since October 1, 2013, Congress has failed to pass appropriations legislation for the 2014 fiscal year;
WHEREAS, the shutdown of federal government and the resultant impacts to the State of Maine have unexpectedly extended beyond a time period manageable by the State of Maine;
WHEREAS, the State of Maine funds hundreds of state programs with federal grant moneys that are not currently available due to the federal shutdown;
WHEREAS, the State of Maine regularly employs thousands of workers whose positions are funded either entirely or partially by federal moneys;
WHEREAS, the loss of federal revenue disrupts state services and interferes with the Governor’s ability to meet his obligation to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Maine citizens;
WHEREAS, there may be statutory or regulatory obligations with which the state is unable to comply due to impacts from the federal shutdown;
WHEREAS, Departments and Agencies of the Executive Branch of the State of Maine may be unable to comply with, carry out or enforce their laws or provide state services;
WHEREAS, Congress has failed to pass appropriations legislation to meet its obligation to fund the employment of thousands of State of Maine employees over a prolonged period of time;
WHEREAS, it is unknown at this time whether appropriation legislation ultimately passed by Congress will fund and authorize reimbursement of the State’s expenditures since October 1, 2013 which were made in reliance on previously promised federal funding;
WHEREAS, the State of Maine has incurred the cost of wages of the aforementioned State of Maine employees due to the lapse of previously promised federal funding;
WHEREAS, the Governor has no authority to continue to pay these wages that the federal government is failing to fund; WHEREAS, the State of Maine has a severely constrained budget and the Governor has no authority to continue to make payments that have not been appropriated;
WHEREAS, these constraints prohibit the State of Maine from continuing to employ workers whose positions the federal government is failing to fund; WHEREAS, this substantially affects the means by which the Executive Branch may faithfully execute the laws in accordance with Article V, Part First, Section 12 of the Maine Constitution;
WHEREAS, these stated constraints and circumstances give rise to a civil emergency within the meaning of the Maine Civil Emergency Preparedness Act, 37-B MRSA 701 et. Seq; and,
WHEREAS, the CEPA empowers the Governor, upon declaration of a civil emergency, to minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from the emergency;
NOW THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of Maine, and after finding that the aforementioned conditions constitute a civil emergency within the meaning of 37B M.R.S.A. § 742, I do hereby declare a State of Civil Emergency as of October 9, 2013 and exercise my authority to suspend strict compliance with laws or rules that prevent, hinder, and delay effective management of the emergency